There was this cafe, down the end of my road, it’s called The Grind. The coffee is good, but not the best I’ve had. I order a skinny chai spiced latte with whatever non dairy milk they have [middle class level 5: complete], but the food, and homemade cakes, are the main draw. With them changing on a daily basis I could never find a reason not to visit. And then they went and got an alcohol license and started selling prosecco [middle class bonus round: achieved!] and I found even less reasons not to go. Every Thursday, and most weekends I would meet my friend there, the preceding confirmatory text would be something along the lines of ‘fancy a grind?’ and then we would indulge, be it in people watching, chit chat, serious talk or giggles, lounging for hours or a rapid half hour dash. I miss these kind of life debriefs.
So I just read This brilliant article, essentially about a woman (in the picture above) being told to smile by a drunk man, something I think nearly all women can attest to happening on a fairly frequent basis. She was obviously having none of it and posted the above on twitter. *cue horrific twitter trolling* Then I saw this video of some moron repeatedly referring to the female presenter as ‘sweetheart’ because he was to ignorant to articulate his views.
It made me realise how little sexism I’ve encountered in Stockholm. In fact, I can not think of a single time I have been confronted with outright blatant or hostile forms of sexism, I’m talking about the cat calling, the substitution of ‘love’ and ‘sweetheart’ for your name, the substitution of ‘slut or whore’ for when a woman does something unfavourable, the rape jokes.. you know what I mean. In Sweden, men will hold the door open as much as any women will (which isn’t actually that often), don’t expect any special treatment here. Don’t expect men to let you off the bus first. Don’t expect a man to pay for your drinks or dinner. Men don’t think it’s ok to sidle up and put their arm around you uninvited when you’re out. They don’t make reference to the way you look or expect that you know less about something just because you’re a girl. In fact, the only time I encountered this in Stockholm was when an Italian remarked that I probably didnt know much about football “because you’re a girl..” That man quickly got put in his place.
This equality extends to a lot of things, the way women dress is a lot less provocative here, you don’t see knicker skimmers and bare legs in this cold weather like you do in England. The adverts feature a variety of characterful faces and men with muffin tops. In fact, Sweden tops the Gender Equality index making it one of the best places to live as a woman (as a Brit I am quite horrified that from the same statistics we see that more women than men in the UK thought it was the womans job to stay home and play wife).
Of course, this is still a patriarchal society and there are ways to travel yet, sexism still exists in a more subversive and hidden form and talking to female friends the kind of hostile sexism that I haven’t encountered can definitely be found here. Yes, the equality has eroded away chivalry, but you know what, I am fine with that. It’s all about continual baby steps, right love?
This is why in every succeeding remembering moment, the story will likely be revised as the present becomes the past anticipating a certain future that bestows a meaning on the whole.
Sometimes you get given a paper to read for research methods class that is so stale and devoid of colour that no will in the world could allow you to reach the reference section. And then you get Brigitta, the women I wish was my adopted grandmother. A retired childrens nurse who continues academic work “for fun” a bespectacled, grey haired and humorous lady who, due to her extensive experience both in the field and home, seems to knows anyone who is anyone in global health. And Brigitta gives you a paper that makes you cry, one that makes you think and one that makes you question everything.
”The availability of good medical care tends to vary inversely with the need for it in the population served. This inverse care law operates more completely where medical care is most exposed to market forces, and less so where such exposure is reduced.
The market distribution of medical care is a primitive and historically outdated social form, and any return to it would further exaggerate the maldistribution of medical resources.”
Trawling through medical and economical literature on health inequality/inequity this afternoon…. This quote by Julian Hart from The Lancet in 1971 seems even more relevant today as it probably was then. And it strikes me that perhaps some of the UK policy makers *cough Jeremy Hunt *cough* should review the knowledge base linking economics, health and inequality and rethink some of the recent movements that seem to be aimed at dismantling the NHS.
Just a thought.
I think its official, Swedish summer is over. The recurringly beautiful sunsets continue, accented with raindrops and gusts of wind. The days may be bright but the chill is set in the air. Autumn is here and the leaves will turn. The nigh draws its curtains earlier and the morning wakes later with every turn of the earth. Soon it will be Swedish winter, and we will see if I survive.